I feel bad that almost everything on the site post-draft has been news about the site and the general direction where things are heading, but you won’t have to put up with it much longer. After thinking it over for a good 5 minutes or so, I’ve decided I might as well go ahead and call what started out as an early summer period of sporadic posting activity what it really is. Time for an official mid to late summer hiatus.
I know what you’re thinking – how will life go on without the high quality analysis and information provided by The Baseball Draft Report? Wait, you’re not thinking that? Not at all? Not even a little? Ouch. Well, here’s the latest and greatest revision of my master plan all the same. I’m hoping to pop in with some of those random updates as promised, so if it’s a reallllllly slow day at work and you’ve read literally every other interesting site on the internet already, check back here on the off-chance you’ll be rewarded with a stray 2010 draft tidbit or two. That’ll cover the three weeks or so until my triumphant return. When will that be? Hey, thanks for asking!
The timing of the reemergence of the site is most excellent, in my humble opinion. Expect a return to a fairly regular blogging schedule on or shortly after the 2009 MLB Draft signing deadline. By August 17th (give or take), things will finally begin to take shape around here. Team-by-team draft report cards will be ready to go (doing them after the deadline made too much sense to me – the timeliness, or lack thereof, is sub-optimal, but the overall quality of the product will be worth it), a mock draft will be finally set to see the light of day, and never before seen 2010 prospect/college team previews will surface. All that plus another site redesign that has boom or bust written all over. Could be the best thing I’ve ever done from a tech standpoint, or could be an ugly, clunky, unimaginative mess. I’m excited to find out one way or another…
I’ll still be checking in daily (more or less) until mid-August, so feel free to drop a line in the comments or via email (thebaseballdraftreport at gmail dot com). I’ve got a terrible memory when it comes to keeping track of which comments I’ve responded to and which I haven’t (it’s not personal at all, I’m just a tad absent-minded when it comes to communication), so don’t feel bashful when it comes to badgering me for responses to something I’ve missed.
Time now for me to get writing…
I’ve put off writing anything of consequence about the Eastern League All-Star game because, while the game was competitive on the field, there wasn’t a whole lot to get excited about from a prospect standpoint. Sure, there were some big names in the game. And, yes, some of those big names played prominent roles in deciding the outcome of a closely contested game. Something about the All-Star game environment, however, made the action on the field feel secondary to the spectacle of the surrounding entertainment. I don’t mean that as a criticism; in fact, even though I came to the game with pen and notebook in hand prepared to watch as the student of the game I so often pretend to be, I found myself enjoying the game in an entirely different, far more relaxed way than usual. I explored the park, sampled the well above-average Thunder concession stand menu, drank just enough to cause me to forget which team was which once or twice, and did plenty of people watching (always a treat at a minor league park, doubly so in a locale such as Trenton). Of course, that didn’t mean I completely ignored the action on the field. After the jump, a few meandering thoughts leftover from last Wednesday’s AA All-Star Game…
On a whim — spontaneity is my middle name, after all — I decided to snag a couple tickets to tonight’s Eastern League All-Star Game (AA) in beautiful downtown Trenton, New Jersey. At least a few of our readers out there aren’t just Google-driven searches stopping by trying to hunt down the latest draft signing updates or gratuitous pictures of pretty girls; we’ve got some hardcore prospect followers who actually keep up with players once they turn pro. I do try my best at staying up with all levels of baseball’s prospectdom, honest, but sometimes trying to track all these players and all these teams and all these levels of competition leaves me disoriented and completely overwhelmed, lost in a sea of seemingly never-ending prospects. Chuck me a life preserver of knowledge and let me know if I’ve overlooked any big names to watch heading into tonight’s game; I’ll be forever grateful. Here’s what I’ve got so far:
Northern Division —> Zach McAllister, Anthony Slama, Junichi Tazawa (not playing), Madison Bumgarner (not playing), Brian Jeroloman, Jesus Montero, Josh Thole (not playing), Lars Anderson, Whit Robbins
Southern Division —> Daniel Moskos, Joe Savery, Vance Worley, Hector Rondon (not playing), Alex Avila, Carlos Santana, Brian Friday, Beau Mills, Quintin Berry, Mike Taylor, Nick Weglarz
My attempt to tie this back into the overarching theme of the website — that would be the draft, if the name of the site wasn’t enough of a giveaway — centers on a couple of the college guys I remember well from my days working on the periphery of the baseball industry before I started up the site. Ah yes, those were the days. I remember seeing Jeroloman, Robbins, and Moskos play live and in color on more than a few occasions back in their carefree college years. Come to think of it, those were my carefree college years as well – no student loan payments, no rent checks, no 403(b)’s, no heightened expectations to straighten up and fly right. Those really were the days. Anyway, I’m pretty sure I wrote some nasty things about Jeroloman (couldn’t hit), some glowing things about Robbins (as pretty an amateur lefty stroke as I had seen in person, damn near almost brought a tear to my eye), and some largely apathetic things about Moskos (mechanical issues, little projection left in his arm, inconsistent stuff…but still a varied enough repertoire that I thought he could be a back of the rotation big league starting pitcher with time). It’ll be cool to see how my opinion has changed of each young fella, not to mention the fun it’ll be to check out some of the really big boppers (Montero, Anderson, Santana, Mills, Taylor, and Weglarz) scheduled to appear in the game.
So, who am I missing? Or, who on the list is someone I should pay extra special attention to? Or, should I just skip the game entirely and see what other fun, legal or otherwise, I can conjure up in Trenton on a Wednesday night?
Finally got around to updating the signings thread, check it out via the link at the top if so inclined. Because I feel bad about the general lameness of this post (hey, I updated something! = lame), here’s a comment that serves as a quick teaser to some of the 2010 stuff on the way. We’re talking 2010 prep arms here:
Cole and Taillon are 1-2, no doubt, but Whitson, Allie, and Covey are all getting potential first round buzz. I personally loved what I saw on video of Cam Bedrosian. Another big personal favorite of mine is Jesus Valdez, super projectable and already armed with a fastball with sick late life.
I’m also the guy that was telling anybody that would listen (my mom) that Mike Burgess would go higher than Jason Heyward at around this point in the process, so my track record of early projections hasn’t been so great. Hey, I try…
Ha, I actually found my original quote re: Burgess vs Heyward. The internet is a magical place…
As for the question at hand, I personally like Burgess best at this point. The combination of raw power, explosive (though inconsistent) swing mechanics, 94 mph arm strength, playable speed (6.9 60), and baserunning instincts well beyond his years make for a heck of a total package. Heyward and Vitters are both excellent prospects in their own right and any argument supporting either would definitely have merit.
Speaking of Vitters, I’ve really been impressed with him and the group of high school third basemen in general this season. My favorite of that group and minor sleeper come draft day is Victor Sanchez from California. I don’t think I’ll be able to go see any of the top HS third basemen this year in person, but I’d be very interested to see how they stack up against last year’s consensus top high school infielder, Billy Rowell (a player who I was lucky enough to see in person multiple times).
I feel like that quote encapsulates so much of what I’m all about when it comes to the draft. Poor projections (Burgess over Heyward), being too quick to look too far into the future (talking about Sanchez, a prime 2010 draft, back in 2007), and bragging about getting to see a player in person (yes, because seeing Rowell a bunch in high school makes me an expert!). I hope I’ve grown a bit since then, but…I doubt I have. Eh, personal growth is so overrated.
[Slight changes going on around here, so if you want to be surprised or hate meta-blog posts then you might want to skip this one and check back again later in the day. I always feel a little silly getting all meta and writing about the site itself (I mean, who even reads this anyway, you know?), so I'd understand if this gets skipped over. I wrote today's post specifically for any daily reader of the site (thanks, by the way) to know exactly what is going on with the direction of the site. I also wrote it for myself. See, for me anyway, this is all a trick to get motivated and committed to follow self-imposed publicly seen deadlines. So, read it or skip it, it's all good, but just know that real stuff is coming...]
Summer is my time for relaxed scheduling around here, but we have a new plan of action that calls for a slightly tighter schedule going forward. I hope/think it’ll work out. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far, let me know if any of this makes sense. It’s a combination of explaining what I’ve been up to (good stuff, hopefully) and what I’d like to do going forward…
I’ve been working pretty hard at finding ways to make time to sit down and focus on writing up certain features for the site (i.e. draft report cards and player/college preview profiles for 2010) while also doing the behind-the-scenes digging (like going to games and showcases, checking out video, making calls and emails to people way smarter and better connected than I’ll ever be) that helps me actually back up some of the silly things I write. I enjoy all of that, no doubt. However, I can’t shake the feeling of guilt when I don’t have anything I deem worthwhile to plaster up on the site, especially when I go longer than a day or two without any kind of update.
So, the new plan: totally random notes that require little writing prep time (fun fact about me – I hate writing), but serve as interesting (hopefully) and topical jumping off points for more involved features to come. For example, in doing my digging on 2010 prep pitchers I’ve come across a wealth of information on some really interesting names for the next year’s draft. Under my current system, I file it all away until…well, I’m not really sure. What am I waiting for? I started this site wanting to do “features,” and I still kind of like the idea of that, but my real goal was to just share as much info as I can with people who care about this stuff as much as I do. Waiting on sharing good information so that I can put it in a nice article-style post runs counter to what I’m trying to do. I realize now that I work better when I just type. Get info, do a little more digging, get a little more info…then type. It’ll be way more of a natural process for me, one where I don’t have to literally set aside time each day to sit at a desk and try to find the motivation to write about the 29th round pick of the White Sox for grading purposes. (By the way, White Sox are next on my list of 2009 draft report cards!). So, the new plan: totally random notes pertaining to the draft whenever I feel like it (these should come early and often) while simultaneously continuing some of the long-range features that I’d like to get done before the end of summer (report cards, early mock drafts, and anything else we can come up with). I’m digging this plan so far, and I really think it’ll work out better for all involved…especially the readers who check in every day wanting to see something new (thanks again for reading, it’s been a blast and you are all a huge part why).
Last but not least, first round signing post will be updated at some point later today. I’m not sure how useful that is to a hardcore draft follower, but it seems to be pretty handy for fans just popping in to check on their favorite team’s first round pick. I really should focus more on draft signings, especially those difficult to sign mid-round high school guys, but, quite frankly, all of that bores me. It’s all posturing until signing day, anyway…wake me up August 17th, then we’ll talk. I guess that attitude doesn’t make a ton of sense (you could say the same thing about all the pre-draft hype – who cares that you are projecting Player X to go to Team Y, you’ll find it all out for real on draft day), but what can I really say? It just doesn’t get me all excited. For now, I’ll stick to my minuscule coverage of first round signings only. So stay tuned for that update later today, if interested.
I don’t have a plan of attack in how I want to approach draft grades, so I just made up some categories and started writing. If anybody out there has a better idea on how to do this, I’m all ears. For now, my quick look at what each big league team did in the 2009 MLB Draft…
Three (3) Picks I Liked A Lot
Am I a byproduct of a the instant-gratification, “what have you done for me lately” generation? Do I place too high a value on a singular event that doesn’t have quite the real life importance explaining the way a team operates the way it does that I’ve assigned to it? Or am I just a typical Negadelphian who is only ever happy when there is something, real or imagined, to complain about? Yes, yes, and yes. I’m not happy that the Phillies, just one year removed from providing me with some of the very best moments of my young life, have now put themselves in the position where their 2009 draft class, a draft class that serves as a proxy to their true commitment to putting a winning product on the field, will be considered a success or failure based almost entirely on the whims of a 7th round high school righthanded pitcher from Louisiana. Brody Colvin (7th Round – HS RHP) is easily the most talented player taken by the Phillies in 2009, but whether or not he signs is a 50/50 proposition at best. No matter what happens, it’s hard not to like the pick itself, especially when looked at from an actual cost/potential benefit perspective. I’m finally buying into the Kelly Dugan (2nd Round – HS OF) selection, even though I’m not sure what to make of his ultimate upside. His is a weird skillset to wrap the head around as it isn’t every day a high school first baseman is converted instantly to centerfield as a professional. Lance Berkman is the pie in the sky optimist comp being bandied about, but even 80% of Berkman would work just fine over the long haul. Jonathan Singleton (8th Round – HS 1B) should be what Michael Durant could have been.
Three (3) Picks I Didn’t Like At All
Kyrell Hudson (3rd Round – HS OF) may in fact be a worthy high upside gamble in the third round (he looks great in a uniform, I’m told), but high school players with well below-average hit tools just plain don’t excite me personally. This seems like a research project worth looking into, though it may be difficult to objectively pin down the parameters to make it worthwhile. The Adam Buschini (4th Round – COL 2B) pick is a frustrating one because it brings back terrible memories of an inexplicably cheap Phillies ownership group overdrafting signable no-leverage college players for no clear reason.
Three (3) Best Bets to Play Major League Ball
Kelly Dugan and Brody Colvin are the two easiest names because each player has the upside needed to be above-average at their position while also coming ready made with useful enough tools that should play within the confines of a carefully carved out big league role if things don’t all come together and stardom isn’t achieved. The wild card of this group is Washington State LHP Matt Way, a fifth round pick. Brian Gump (26th Round – COL OF) could be a fifth outfielder somewhere, someday based on his plus speed tool alone, but now I’m just getting cute with this category. Part of my appreciation of Gump here is my coy way of mentioning that two of his many nicknames include “Hot Pants” and “Shiggles.” Shiggles Gump. For real.
California Condor Award (Longest Incubation Period aka Longest Expected Time in Minors)
Plenty of one promotion at a time high school guys in this particular class – lots of 2014 ETA’s. Hudson is probably the biggest name among the group that would take the longest time to reach the bigs…if that makes sense.
Hudson is almost all projection at this point, so he would appear to be a favorite for this category. On paper, it does make some sense – Hudson is Eddie Murphy raw with tons of potential growth to his game. Then again, your mileage might vary on how high his actual upside really is. It’s great that he can run really fast and even better that his physical frame belies potential plus power down the road, but if a player can’t hit high school pitching with any kind of regularity then his upside is ultimately going to be quite limited. It’s too early to say Hudson — or any high school player for that matter — will never hit as a professional, so I won’t come out and say it, but…it’s generally not too wise to invest too much hope in players who haven’t shown the ability to make consistent contact against what should be overmatched competition. My real answer would be Colvin, a pitcher with true top of the rotation quality stuff and the drive to get there.
Tina Small Biggest Potential Bust Award (Google Her, It’ll Make Sense – NSFW)
Has to be Hudson at this point, right? He could conceivably never make it past AA. If you are counting on underslot top five round college signees to become above-average big league contributors, then you could also throw either Buschini or Way in the mix. I personally would be surprised to see Buschini get a big league at bat. That would make his selection a “bust,” right? I guess it depends on how we want to define “bust.” For now, I’m just looking at high round players (top five, generally) that have a long ways away from being big league quality players. Hudson fits that definition almost too perfectly.
Way could be a back of the rotation crafty lefty starter if things break the way he and the Phillies hope, but his most likely landing spot is as a LOOGY. Austin Hyatt (15th Round – COL RHP) is another player that may not quite have the upside as a legit big league starter, but has just enough stuff and more than enough guile to outwork those around him and win a bullpen job someday.
Three (3) Unsignable (Probably) Players To Remember
I’m too much of an optimist to put Colvin here, so I won’t. I’d actually bet on him signing a pro contract in the next month or so over him heading down to LSU. If the category was really best non-top five round high school player, then Colvin, Singleton, and Andrew Susac (16th Round – HS C) would make for an easy top three. If we restrict the category to players picked in rounds 10 or later, the best bets to emerge as legit prospects in 2012 include Jake Stewart (Round 14 – HS OF), Susac, and Jeff Gelalich (Round 41 – HS OF).
As it stands now, this draft is one of the weaker ones from top to bottom. However, like many drafts around the league at this point, that potentially negative grade comes with plenty of caveats. Attempting to grade the Phillies prep bunch is tricky because it raises the question of talent vs. signability. Do you grade the high school players on talent or on the likelihood of whether or not each player signs? If it’s the former we’re ignoring the realities of the draft, but if it’s the latter then we’ve just wasted time analyzing picks that shouldn’t really be discussed until after the August signing deadline. I guess a balance is the way to go, let’s try that approach and see what sticks.
Dugan could be an above-average regular outfielder, but was still an undeniable overdraft and not great relative value. Hudson is an all or nothing pick, no other way of putting it. Singleton could be the high schooler than makes or breaks this particular subset (high school bats) because his power potential, bat speed, and age all point to big things to come. Aaron Altherr (Round 9 – HS OF) is Kyrell Hudson with better makeup, thus making him an excellent gamble at this point in the draft. An incredibly raw high school outfielder with a questionable hit tool in the third? Bad idea. Similar player in the ninth round? Let’s roll the dice and see if we can get lucky. Speaking of toolsy outfielders, Stewart and Gelalich both qualify as worthy shots in the dark past round ten. Stewart could part of the insurance policy the Phillies took out in case Colvin doesn’t sign. Susac and the already signed Marlon Mitchell (Round 27 – HS C) are both quality defensive catchers that could develop into starting caliber players.
Colvin is naturally the star of the prep pitching group. His basic scouting report (mid-90s fastball, near plus curveball, above-average athlete and hitter, sometimes sloppy mechanics) sounds a lot like former Phillies first round pick Kyle Drabek’s coming out of high school to me. Steven Inch (Round 6 – HS RHP) has a great frame and that fantastic blend of untapped potential mixed with present polish that make him a personal favorite. Colin Kleven (Round 33 – HS RHP), like Inch a Canadian, grades out as having a tad less upside and a great deal less polish, but he could be a possibility as an early August sign simply because he is one of the very few projectable arms drafted by the Phils here in 2009.
One or more out of Way, Nick Hernandez (12 Round – COL LHP), Hyatt, or still unsigned AJ Griffin (34th Round – COL RHP) should reach the bigs in some capacity – I’m personally a huge Griffin fan, though the lack of a signature on a pro contract by now seems to indicate the ship has all but sailed on him signing and he’ll head back to San Diego for his senior year. The quartet make up four of my favorite under the radar college arms from this year’s class, so at least they have that going for them. There are almost literally no college bats that profile as Major Leaguers, with the only exceptions being longshots like Buschini (who I’m on record as not liking), Darin Ruf (20th Round – COL 1B), and unsigned Texas A&M Aggie Brodie Greene (37th Round – COL 2B). I’m doubtful that any of the three get more than a handful of big league at bats, but Ruf was still a solid selection as a late round senior sign and Greene was a worthy gamble (though it is doubtful he signs) as an offensive second baseman in the 37th round.
Overall, it’s a draft heavy on high school bats and college arms. Based on what I know and what I think I know, they’ll sign two of the four toolsy outfielders (Hudson and Altherr), none or both of the prep righties (I think both Colvin and Inch sign), and then one of the two remaining potential impact bats (either Singleton or Susac, with Singleton being the more likely of the two). A haul of Colvin, Dugan, Singleton, Inch, (Susac), (Stewart), (Gelalich), Hudson, Altherr, Hernandez, Mitchell, Way, Ruf, Buschini, and Hyatt wouldn’t match the potentially historic 2008 draft class for overall value, but it still stacks up as an above-average group with plenty of impact upside.